Real Madrid v Manchester City: Chelsea, MSN, Mbappé … Joesp Guardiola, ten years of non-cancellation in the Champions League

The Santiago-Bernabeu is quite a successful stadium. Since he wore the coach suit, Josep Guardiola has had almost only good memories there. The 6-2 from Barça to Real for his first Clasico as a coach is probably the best. In nine away games to the Spanish capital, the Catalan has seen his side win six times for two draws and one small defeat. It happened in the Champions League, with Bayern Munich, beaten by Real by … Carlo Ancelotti (1-0) in 2014. A symbolic exception.

The C1 is where the shoe pinches for Pep. For ten years he has won all possible national titles, both with Bayern Munich and with Manchester City. But this Champions League, which he had won twice (2009, 2011) in his first three appearances as a manager with Barca, has systematically turned him down during this period. Wednesday at the Bernabeu are ten years of bad memories that he will try to erase against Real to give himself the chance to finally win back the cup with big ears.

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2012: The unlikely hiccup

  • Semi-final: Chelsea v FC Barcelona (1-0, 2-2)

Everything seemed ready for the return to the final of Barça de Guardiola, defending champion, despite the defeat suffered in the first leg of the semifinal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge following a goal by Didier Drogba (1-0). A break ahead thanks to the achievements of Sergio Busquet (35th) and Andres Iniesta and a numerical superiority from the first period after the expulsion of John Terry (37th) for a very favorable scenario at the Camp Nou. And it all fell apart. Ramires beautifully narrowed the gap just before half-time (45th), Leo Messi missed a penalty immediately afterwards (49th) and Fernando Torres crucified the Blaugrana club in the 90th. An unlikely hiccup to start the Guardiola shortage.

Fernando Torres and Chelsea, executioners of Barça de Guardiola in 2012

Credit: Getty Images

2014: The Munich nightmare

  • Semi-final: Real Madrid – Bayern Munich (1-0, 0-4)

There was therefore the first and only defeat to date for Guardiola’s coach in Madrid, on a goal by Karim Benzema in the first leg (1-0). A score that hinted at the enormous pressure of Bayern, the reigning champion, on the people of Madrid on their return to Munich. But Ancelotti’s Real has literally overturned a Bavarian team with no ideas. The mass had already been said after a good half hour with a brace from Sergio Ramos (16th, 20th) and a goal against Cristiano Ronaldo (34th), before that of CR7’s brace on a free kick at 90th. A real nightmare to complete Pep’s first European season at Bayern.

Josep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, during the first leg of the 2012 Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich

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2015: The bad trick of MSN

  • Semi-final: FC Barcelona – Bayern Munich (3-0, 3-2)

This is the reunion with FC Barcelona for Guardiola. And Barça are playing a bad joke on their former manager under the pressure of an MSN at the top of his game. Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar drove the Bavarian defense crazy in the first leg with a brace from the Argentine (10th, 80th) and a goal from the Brazilian (90th). Bayern continue to hope for an incredible feat in the return when Mehdi Benatia quickly opens the scoring (7th), but a brace from Neymar on two assists from Suarez (15th, 29th) makes the Bavarians dream even before the team di Guardiola will still win half an hour of the game thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski (59th) and Thomas Müller (74th) in the second half, but their victory will remain anecdotal.

Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola during the Champions League semifinal between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona on May 12, 2015.

Credit: Eurosport

2016: Griezmann’s fatal counter

  • Semi-final: Atlético de Madrid – Bayern Munich (1-0, 2-1)

It is the style opposition par excellence between Bayern de Guardiola and Atlético de Simeone. The Cochoneros took the lead after the first leg thanks to an individual effort by Saul Niguez in Vicente-Calderon (1-0). Bayern quickly equalized overall in the return to Munich with a free-kick from Xabi Alonso. But Antoine Griezmann arrives to crucify against Manuel Neuer and the Bavarian club at the beginning of the second period (54th). The German club must score twice to qualify, but will only score one goal with Lewandowski (74th). The Bayern adventure ends for Guardiola with the third consecutive failure in the Champions League semifinals.

Antoine Griezmann, Atletico’s scorer against Bayern

Credit: AFP

2017: Mbappé’s slap

  • Round of 16: Manchester City v Monaco (5-3, 3-1)

This is the chef’s surprise. Young Kylian Mbappé, 17, is hired by Leonardo Jardim at the expense of Valère Germain to challenge Manchester City now coached by Josep Guardiola at Etihad. And the legend begins to be written. The future PSG striker scores in a completely crazy first leg (5-3) that sees Radamel Falcao score twice, but also miss a penalty. The ASM reverses the situation and denies the predictions on the return with a success started by Mbappé (8th). Fabinho (29th) gives the Monegasques a break, Leroy Sané (71st) thinks about saving City but Tiémoué Bakayoko (79th) gives the qualification to the Principality club. And a slap in the face to the ambitious Mancunien.

Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappé and Thomas Lemar (Monaco) against Manchester City in 2017.

Credit: AFP

2018: Klopp controls Pep

  • Quarter-finals: Liverpool v Manchester City (3-0, 1-2)

These are the beginnings of a duel that still vampirizes the Premier League today. And it is already a symbol of Guardiola’s paradox. In the league, his team overwhelmed Liverpool at Etihad at the beginning of the season (5-0). Certainly she lost in the return to Anfield after a spectacular match (4-3), but she still started as the favorite when the two teams met in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But in C1, Pep can’t do it. The fiery start of the first leg at Anfield, achieved by Mo Salah (10th), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (21st) and Sadio Mané (31st) brought the Reds to the main road. And City believed it when Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring from start to second leg (2nd), but Liverpool reversed the situation in the second half thanks to Salah (56th) and Roberto Firmino (77th). Klopp tamed Guardiola.

Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool eliminated Josep Guardiola and Manchester City from the Champions League in 2018

Credit: Getty Images

2019: When VAR comes into play …

  • Quarter-finals: Tottenham v Manchester City (1-0, 4-3)

A bizarre scenario. Not necessarily in the first leg, where Tottenham won ahead of City on the smallest of the margins with a goal from Heung-Min Son (78th). But on the way back … City leads 3-2 after only 20 important minutes, Sergio Agüero believes he will qualify the Mancunians by the hour, but Fernando Llorente (73rd) puts Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs in a position to qualify. City pushed and Etihad overturned as Sterling scored in injury time. And the VAR comes into play, active in the Champions League since the beginning of the season. After an interminable moment, the goal was disallowed for offside by Agüero. And City is eliminated.

The VAR cancels Sterling’s goal at City-Tottenham

Credit: Getty Images

2020: Lyon and the other 3-5-2 controversy

  • Quarter-finals: Manchester City – Lyon (1-3)

The world is experiencing the Covid crisis and all that that implies for the Champions League. A Final 8 on a neutral field in Lisbon, the absence of an audience, the non-return … This very particular context may have played in favor of Lyon, but this does not detract from the achievement of Les Gones, qualified thanks to a goal from the ‘inevitable… Maxwel Cornet (21st) and a double by Moussa Dembélé (79th, 87th). But also thanks to Josep Guardiola’s strange choice. We still talk about the famous 3-5-2 of Laurent Blanc against … City, but just as strange was that of Pep against OL. In this experimental scheme, we have never recognized the Mancunian DNA. And Guardiola took it for the rank of him.

Moussa Dembélé scores second Lyon goal against Manchester City – OL in Champions League quarter-finals

Credit: Getty Images

2021: By dint of thinking too much …

  • Final: Manchester City – Chelsea (0-1)

This time no elimination in the quarter-finals as in the last three editions. Manchester City are playing their first Champions League final after defeating PSG in the semi-finals. Up front, a funny customer: Chelsea seem unplayable since Thomas Tuchel sat on his bench over the winter. The Blues have also beaten City twice in the previous weeks, in the Cup (1-0) then in the league (1-2). Guardiola doesn’t know what to do anymore, so try to bet. An ultra offensive 3-4-3 without a sentry. Losing bet. The City loses the collective balance and bows on a goal from Kai Havertz (42nd). Past failures may have passed through the Catalan’s mind. And by dint of thinking too much, Pep got lost.

Josep Guardiola, beaten with Manchester City against Chelsea in the 2021 Champions League final

Credit: Getty Images

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